The Problems of Conceptualisation and Measurement of Social Capital: Towards a New Synthesis

10 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2004

See all articles by A.B. C. Adi

A.B. C. Adi

Lagos Business School; University of Tsukuba

Date Written: July 2004


One of the unifying themes of development studies is the nascent social capital research. Its conceptualisation has however, remained hotly contested. Considering the motley of papers, both empirical and theoretical, on the subject, it is not difficult to see that somewhere along the continuum of social capital research there is a communication break down: we know the fruits of social capital but we are not certain what it is. This in turn raises serious question on what is claimed for social capital when its true essence has not been confronted. In other words, the ontology and epistemology of social capital (which should inform the theory) are not in sync with its teleology (empirics). This paper focuses on the ontological dimensions of social capital in order to contribute to a theory of social capital that is consistent with its outcomes. The benefits of such analysis is manifold. For one, it will lead to the evolution of concrete and determinable variables that are instrumental to a more robust understanding of social capital, thereby exploring ways to cultivate and accumulate social capital.

Keywords: Social Capital, Norms, Values, Measurement

JEL Classification: O10, B15, O19

Suggested Citation

Adi, Bongo C., The Problems of Conceptualisation and Measurement of Social Capital: Towards a New Synthesis (July 2004). Available at SSRN: or

Bongo C. Adi (Contact Author)

Lagos Business School ( email )

Pan-Atlantic University
KM 22, Lekki-Epe Expressway
Lagos, Lagos State


University of Tsukuba ( email )

Tsukuba University , Ibaraki Ken
Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8573, Ibaraki 3050006

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